UPDATE: Rooftop fire at apartment building in The Junction

(Reader photo courtesy Quent)
12:17 PM: Seattle Fire is at an apartment building in the 4700 block of 41st SW after a report of smoke. More to come.

(WSB photos by Christopher Boffoli)
12:23 PM UPDATE: SFD says it was a “rooftop fire” but is now “extinguished.”

The address on the SFD log checks to the City Watch Apartments east of Jefferson Square.

12:30 PM: Update via scanner – firefighters have now spotted a “small fire in a planter” on the rooftop.

12:39 PM: They’re calling for another engine and ladder. No word of injuries so far. Thanks to Craig Roberts for video showing the heavy smoke when this all got started:

12:44 PM: One of our crews at the scene talked with WSB reader Sue, who lives at this building and is OK, but quite a scare, as her hallway on the 5th floor was full of smoke. We’ve also talked with the incident commander, who says the fire is now tapped.

They’re still checking the air quality among other things so no word on how soon people will be allowed back into the building.

1:18 PM: Just briefed by SFD public-information officer Kyle Moore – he confirms no one was hurt, and that the fire was confined to the rooftop, but investigators don’t know yet what sparked it.

(WSB photo by Patrick Sand)
People are being allowed back into the building.

ADDED MONDAY EVENING: We checked with Moore just before day’s end: “Cause is accidental, improperly discarded smoking materials onto rooftop deck or planter. The damage estimate is $7,000.”

25 Replies to "UPDATE: Rooftop fire at apartment building in The Junction"

  • Celeste17 June 15, 2015 (12:20 pm)

    Is this why I have a helicopter over my house?

    • WSB June 15, 2015 (12:24 pm)

      Yes, TV chopper. If anything happens during a TV newscast time period (noon, 5 pm, 6 pm, etc.) you’ll likely get a chopper visit. – TR

  • JanS June 15, 2015 (12:31 pm)

    a lot of smoke for a roof top fire…there is a “lounge” area up there…a mutual acquaintance lives in that building…

  • I Wonder June 15, 2015 (12:33 pm)

    At least the temporary fire station is close by.

  • Melodie VanHouten June 15, 2015 (12:41 pm)

    Looks like they are clearing out now. They had to take a few people down the ladder though. Hopefully everyone is ok!

  • Tony S June 15, 2015 (12:45 pm)

    That’s one heck of a planter to be cranking out that amount of heavy black smoke!

  • Locks June 15, 2015 (12:56 pm)

    There are 12 emergency response vehicles on the scene. Wow.

  • Buck June 15, 2015 (12:57 pm)

    I am going to guess it was a cigarette butt left smoldering in the planter. This happens often in planters and beauty bark downtown when warm dry weather prevails.

    • WSB June 15, 2015 (1:02 pm)

      It does, but we have no official info yet. The public-information officer is due at the scene shortly and as soon as we hear from him, we’ll update again – TR

  • Michael Dunn June 15, 2015 (1:11 pm)

    Wait does this mean I can’t use the BBQ tonight? Thank God for Elliott Bay Brewing I need a drink after all this…

  • Vincent Dakotah Langley June 15, 2015 (1:15 pm)

    I saw the smoke and went out to look for my room-mate and our dog. I have serious health problems as it is [advanced CAD (coronary artery disease), COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma and so-forth], so, I became really quite sick breathing the smoke outside from this fire. Still sick right now, at 1:03PM, following this fire. I had to go outside, though, to find my room-mate and our dog because my room-mate is a legally blind person (she uses a white cane for the blind, for mobility purposes). And, sure enough, I found her and our dog near the top of the hill, near to the intersection of 41st Avenue, S.W. and S.W. Edmunds Street, right in all of that smoke! (We live down on Fauntleroy Way, S.W., nearest cross-street to us is S.W. Edmunds Street.) I may go to a medical doctor or to the hospital emergency department this afternoon because of excessive smoke inhalation. I don’t know yet. Our poor little dog can’t breathe any smoke, either, because of the people who had her for the first 9 years of her life. [She is now 13 years old and we love her really very much! Also, she is my diabetes dog. I have IDDM (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus) and, when my blood sugar gets too high, our dog begins to bark and bark at me, telling me to check my blood sugar level with my glucose meter again and, if need be at that time, “do” some more fast-acting insulin. Our dog knows this by a change in my breath as my blood sugar rises. It’s really quite simple. For me, it was go out in the smoke and save Barbara and little Tia (our dog) from that smoke, today.]
    “…Rock ‘n’ Roll!!!…”

  • Ummm June 15, 2015 (1:16 pm)

    I’m not sure about all the units, but those of us on the front side of the building have been allowed back into our apartmemts.

  • westseattledood June 15, 2015 (1:57 pm)

    Glad they could control this, but wow I saw that smoke from the freeway coming in from the north and that was a worrisome sight!

    That little planter might be a foreshadowing of a very early fire season. We are tinder dry already.

    Let’s try to be cautious….from weekend camping amidst dry conifers out of town to in-town roof garden planters!

    Think prevention!

    PS. Certainly glad you are ok Sue…bummer about a smoked out apartment though. :(

  • PinkBallofFury June 15, 2015 (2:07 pm)

    As a resident on the other side of the building we smelled smoke for about 30 minutes before the alarms went off. It smells faint and like a bon fire or as though someone were using a smoker so we thought nothing of it until the alarms went off.

    It seems everyone is allowed back in the building now.

  • Diane June 15, 2015 (2:33 pm)

    I don’t know that it would be completely accurate to say Sue is OK; physically, yes; but emotionally, she’s terrified about her cat; she LOVES her cat, and he was scared by the alarms; she couldn’t find him when required to evacuate and she’s been VERY upset that he might have been harmed because he’s still in her apt (which is on top floor, right under the fire); holding positive thoughts for Sue and Olias

  • CJ June 15, 2015 (3:35 pm)

    At about 1:45p as I was talking on the phone with a resident, she went to the roof of the other City Watch tower and soon noticed smoke and then flame from another planter. She alerted firefighters who were still across the way on the other tower roof and they quickly extinguished it. Sounds like those planters could be a future fire hazard.

  • Diane June 15, 2015 (3:42 pm)

    that is weird, and suspect

  • miws June 15, 2015 (4:41 pm)

    Update on Sue and Olias: she got back into her apartment an hour or so ago, and found her kitty to be okay. Just a light smoke smell, and no water damage.



  • JoAnne June 15, 2015 (5:22 pm)

    So glad to hear no one was seriously hurt or lost. Hope everyone recovers quickly and completely from the trauma/smoke.

  • Sue June 15, 2015 (6:23 pm)

    Sorry I didn’t have the energy to respond until now. It was an extremely scary experience. I’ve never been in an apartment building fire before, and I was sitting here (on a vacation day – normally I would’ve been downtown) and heard my apartment smoke alarm go off. I was a bit confused by it, as I had nothing cooking nor in the dryer, and my apartment had no smoke. I actually thought it was a false alarm and was considering calling the apt. manager and then I heard the fire trucks. That’s when I realized that it was probably wired to the building. I kinda expected announcements (like we had in our office building during an emergency), but no. I checked the door and handle to make sure it was cool, and looked into the hallway. It was smokey and the fire doors at the ends of the hallway were closed (the hallway is H shaped, and I’m on the cross part). Looked everywhere for my cat to evacuate him, but he has hiding from the alarm, and the hardest decision I ever had to make was to leave him. I had already delayed probably 5 minutes from the first alarm, and needed to leave, and the hallway was more smokey. I’m on the 5th floor, the top floor below the deck that was on fire in the north tower.
    Came out to all the fire engines and got more info from WSB than what was being told to us (which was nothing, since they were busy firefighting). Heard the fire was out about an hour after I evacuated, but still couldn’t go in, so I went a block away to the benches outside Jefferson Square to wait, until WSB said they were letting people back in. I went back, but unfortunately it was another 90 minutes before they got the elevator back on again! I have lung disease, so the last thing I needed to do was walk up four flights, breathing heavy in a smokey environment.
    Got back into my apartment around 3pm and kitty was fine, thank goodness. Very faint smoke in my apartment (kinda like if I burned something on the stove badly), but the hallway is more significant. A fire could spread fast up there, especially as it’s usually windy and the deck has wooden boardwalk-like walkways that would make nice tinder. Grateful there wasn’t more damage. I’m told the apartments on the east side had water damage between the fire suppression and someone said a valve broke on the hose and they couldn’t immediately turn it off. I’m on the Jefferson Square side, so no water damage here, at least not visible now. They’re going to come in Thursday to inspect in case stuff seeps down.
    Very frightening, and I’m grateful no one was hurt and that we have a roof over our heads. The fire fighters were wonderfully professional, as were the staff at City Watch who were running all over the building checking on things.

    • WSB June 15, 2015 (7:58 pm)

      Sorry, I’ve been offline a while and the cause came in in the meantime; I called/e-mailed SFD again just before 5 pm but it took a while longer for the reply – added to story, “Cause is accidental, improperly discarded smoking materials onto rooftop deck or planter. The damage estimate is $7,000.”

  • rrseattle June 15, 2015 (8:53 pm)

    I live in the tower that had the fire. Is it normal that my tap water is running slightly brown this evening? I’m guessing it has something to do with flushing the fire hydrants?

  • patt June 15, 2015 (10:49 pm)

    Glad everyone is OK!
    Spread the word about bark type planter and garden “soil”.
    All sorts of things are made fire proof because we know stuff happens.
    If one uses this type of topping “soil’ please keep it wet, or better yet use dirt.
    When it is not wet it is just small kindling.

  • Diane June 16, 2015 (1:34 am)

    yes, use of fire hydrants stirs up sediment and turns water brown

  • JanS June 16, 2015 (2:17 am)

    Sadly, that’s a non-smoking building, including the roof top. Common sense surely goes out the window at times, huh. Would be nice if they could catch the person who was careless, and left a burning butt in the planter. Let them pay for the damage. People could have been hurt, and/or lost their home. I hope this was a wakeup call for that person, and they will think twice before doing it again.

Sorry, comment time is over.